Inspiring gallery exhibit presents art borne from natural disasters

The Lockhart Gallery hosted the opening of “16 times 8 equals 1” by artist Lawrence Phillip on Wednesday March 27. Phillip drew inspiration from the destruction caused by hurricanes near the places he has lived and incorporates scraps from the destruction in his art (Juli Aviles/staff writer).

Lawrence Philip is inspired by chaos. Philip, an authentic artist, has witnessed many natural disasters in his lifetime because he has lived where destruction due to weather conditions is common. 

The Lockhart Gallery proudly opened the exhibit “Works on Paper” from the Series “16 Times 8 Equals 1” by New York native Philip on March 27.

The gallery is neatly tucked away inside the McClellan House on 26 Main St., which had its walls covered in Philip’s abstract artwork. The art certainly stands out from more traditional art pieces and past exhibits displayed here at Geneseo. The New Yorker currently resides in Rex, Ga. and has lived in Florida in the past. 

The debris left from natural disasters in these areas stuck out to Philip, leading him to incorporate less traditional materials into his art.

“I am looking for new ways to make my work,” Philip wrote in his artist statement. “I was a flat painter. I am striving to paint more paintings that relate to me.”

Philip incorporates materials like plaster, plastic foam and cardboard into his art for this series. The art feels like it’s almost popping out of the frame, being 3D in the sense that the art doesn’t just lay flat behind the frame.

Lockhart Gallery director Cynthia Hawkins knows Philip and has worked with him in the past. Hawkins especially emphasized Philip’s use of so-called “found” materials in his art. 

Philip’s use of cardboard sticks out but also flows well with his art style. The pieces are cut into abstract shapes and placed in different sections varying from painting to painting. One thing that remains constant is his signature, always faintly visible through the art somewhere at the bottom of the painting. 

Philip has varying pieces of art within this series. Some of the paintings are more pastel colored and soft, while others are dark and grey. He aptly expresses a wide range of emotions while using minimalistic materials. The art can certainly be categorized as abstract, but at the same time simplistic. 

There are so many shapes, colors and materials in each painting, but Philip conveys meaning and emotions to viewers even if they don’t know why he has chosen to use said materials. Up close, the art is complex and filled with a wide range of materials. Once the viewer takes a few steps back, however, the pieces are  able to be appreciated in a new way. 

“When you get some distance on them, they really take on individuality,” Hawkins said. “Everything comes together.” The art’s whole story and message really does come together as a whole when the viewer puts a small amount of space between the art and themselves. 

The Lockhart Gallery will be showing this exhibit until May 4. All of the art displayed on and off campus holds different meaning and value to everyone, but this exhibit is special. It uses unique materials to elicit deeper thoughts for visitors.